Emergencies

By attending your dentist and hygienist appointments on a regular basis, we would hope to avoid dental emergencies occurring. However, we do appreciate that accidents and unexpected problems can occur.

As part of our service to our patients we schedule certain times during each working day for the treatment of dental emergencies. Wherever possible, during normal surgery hours, we would aim to see patients in need of emergency treatment on the same day. In order to help us achieve this goal we would ask patients in difficulties to contact reception before 12.00 noon.

Outside normal surgery hour emergency dental care and advice is provided by the Hertfordshire Out of Hours Dental Service on 0300 033 3224.

We have included some general advice about dealing with common dental emergencies but would always advise you to seek advice from a dental professional at the earliest opportunity

BROKEN FRONT TEETH

If you’ve chipped a very small bit off a front tooth and it’s not too sharp or sensitive it should be ok to wait until normal surgery hours to have the tooth smoothed or repaired.

For larger fractures it’s always worth trying to find the bit of tooth that has been broken off. It may be possible to re-fix the broken portion.

If your front teeth feel loose or in the wrong position following an accident then you should seek dental advice as soon as possible.

If an accident occurs outside and you have cuts or abrasions that may be dirty we would advise you check with your GP that your vaccinations against Tetanus are all up to date.

Where you have been concussed, have serious cuts to your face or lips or other injuries we would advise you to seek emergency medical help and advice first. Your teeth can wait until your general health has been checked.

Front teeth can often be damaged as a result of sports injuries. We would encourage anyone playing contact sports to routinely wear a sports-guard. We would also recommend them for playing racket sports, horse riding and mountain biking. As well as protecting your teeth, a sports-guard protects your lips and can reduce the risk of concussion or other brain injury.

BROKEN BACK TEETH

If you break a back tooth and it’s not too sharp or painful it will normally wait until the next normal working day. If the broken edge is very sharp a little sugar free chewing gum or orthodontic wax applied to the rough edge can help protect your lips or tongue. Many pharmacies sell kits of temporary filling material which may help to plug a sensitive hole for a day or so, but they aren’t a long term solution.

A TOOTH KNOCKED OUT

If you knock an adult tooth out the best advice is to push the tooth gently back in to the socket at the earliest opportunity. Hold the tooth by the crown ( the bit that you would normally be able to see). If the tooth is dirty rinse it gently under cold running water before re-implanting it. Seek dental advice ASAP.

If you aren’t confident to re- insert the tooth, store it in fresh milk and seek immediate dental care.

For children, if the tooth knocked out is a milk tooth then it is better not to attempt to re-implant it. As a guide, children under 6 years of age would not normally have any adult front teeth present to be knocked out. If you aren’t sure store the tooth in fresh milk. Either way, seek urgent dental care.

A LOOSE CROWN OR BRIDGE.

If a crown or bridge is loose it’s probably best to leave it in position and avoid eating on it until you can have it re-cemented. If the crown or bridge is so loose you are worried you might swallow it ( or worse still inhale it) you should gently prise it out. Store the crown or bridge carefully as they can often be re-cemented. You should seek dental care to have the crown or bridge re-cemented as soon as you can. Leaving a crown or bridge off for more than a day or two can sometimes make re-cementing it more difficult or impossible. NEVER ATTEMPT TO RE-FIX A CROWN OR BRIDGE WITH HOUSEHOLD GLUE.

BLEEDING FOLLOWING AN EXTRACTION.

When you have had a tooth out we would advise that for the rest of the day you should stick to a soft diet, avoid rinsing out your mouth, avoid very hot or very cold drinks, avoid alcohol and avoid strenuous exercise. If bleeding should occur roll a clean cotton handkerchief into a tight wad and pop it over the socket. Bite hard on the wad to apply firm pressure to the gum and sit quietly for 20 minutes. If the socket continues to bleed then seek dental advice. Avoid taking aspirin as a pain- killer after a dental extraction as it can cause you to bleed for longer. Remember a little blood dissolved in your saliva can look much worse than it really is.

A SWOLLEN FACE

If you notice a swelling on your gum you should seek dental care as soon as is possible. Antibiotics and/or other treatment will probably be required. If your face swells up you should seek dental care urgently. Swellings in the lower jaw, beneath the tongue, can be a life threatening emergency. When this occurs out of hours you should attend your nearest accident and emergency department as a matter of urgency.